Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Letter to my 15 Year Old Self (PART 1)

I read an article entitled, "15 Truths I Wish I'd Known About Love 15 Years Ago," in the Huffington Post this morning.  Great article.  It is basically a 30-year old woman looking over her life and analyzing what could have changed her (love) life for the better, had she known it at the age of 15.  It got me thinking, what would I tell my 15 year old self, knowing what I know now.  Not only in love, but in all aspects of life.  Hmmm......
Letter Title: 15 Truths I Wish I'd Known About at the Age of 15
Dear Faunya,
I know that you are wise beyond your years and you think that you've gotten most things figured out in life.  However, I think I have a little insight and experience that I would like share with you.  Please listen and take in everything I have to say before you interject with your comebacks.  I am you, 20 years from now, if you continue down the path you are currently on.  I know, I know, you don't look all that bad.......but wouldn't you like to be better, happier and more fulfilled?  Well, here are a few tips.......
  1. Work harder, academically.  It matters.  Your grades determine the colleges you'll get in to and once in college, your grades will help to determine the jobs you will get once you graduate......and if you ever decide to go back to school for your PhD or MBA, those grades will help to determine the quality (if any) school you get in to.
  2. Keep those connections.  You are a good person and a good student.  You have teachers that like you.....even admire you.  Don't forget about them, when you move on to the next stage of your life.  Keep those connections.  Cultivate those relationships.  You'll wish you did, when you're applying for other programs and need recommendations.  You'll wish you did when you're going through difficult times in your future schooling or at work and just need someone with experience to talk to.  The same actually applies to all positive people in your life, regardless of their level and pay grade.  You'll be surprised at how much other positive people can help you to get further than you would be able to get on your own.  I'm not suggesting that you maintain close friendships with each of these people.  Who has the time for that?  However, a holiday card or a quarterly email goes a long way.  Don't lose touch.
  3. Keep dancing!  It's what you love to do.  You're never going to be an exercise buff, but dancing will keep you in shape.  It'll keep you energized and it will keep you engaged.  It doesn't matter that you'll probably never be a professional dancer.  It's what you love and it brings you joy.  Keep dancing!  Do some shows.  Stretch and warm up well (trust me......if you don't you'll get runner's knee), but don't stop dancing.  You'll thank me in the end.
  4. Live below your means......way below your means.  Credit cards are nice. New clothes are nice.  Fancy trips and impressive apartments are nice.  However, I have found something much nicer than all of those things.  Freedom!    Whose to say that you'll want to remain at your first job forever?  Maybe you'll want to change directions and start a new career that requires you to start at the bottom?  What do you do if you're 25 and realize you may want to try out a new career before the husband and kids come, but you have a $1,200 co-op bill to pay each month?  What do you do if you find yourself in a bad situation and feel the best decision is to walk away.  Well, if you live above your means and have credit card payments, time share payments and house payments to make, you stay.  Give yourself some freedom in your older years.  Give yourself the freedom to choose the life you want and have more options to explore in your younger years.  Step one to achieving this.......live below your means.
  5. Share more.  The saying goes that you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.  I have spent too much time assuming that the horse would not drink or concerning myself with how the horse would react to my direction.  This has caused me to not share on many occasions.  I have learned so much during my lifetime, but I have not increased others knowledge to match my own.  We are commanded to go out into the world and spread the word to everyone, not just the people you are most comfortable with and not just those people that you think will be most receptive, but to all.  You plant the seed and leave it up to God to give the increase, if it be his will.
  6. Accept who you are!  I spent many of my younger years focusing on those areas where I lacked.  If I look back at my teenage diaries, I would put "be more outgoing" as one of my resolutions each year.  I would torture myself internally because I was always more introspective than my peers.  I was embarrassed when the teacher would announce the individual with the highest score in the class (Most often, it would be me).  I developed a habit of doing all that I could to not stand out in the crowd, so that I would appear 'normal.'  However, I know now that God made me special.  Hiding myself caused me to miss out on many blessings and opportunities.  God has given each of us something special for a reason.  Embrace those things that are uniquely you.  Accept them and learn to nurture them.  It is the difference betwen being ordinary and extraordinary.
  7. It's all about Him! When I left for college at the age of 17, I also officially left the church.  My grandfather was a pastor, my stepdad was a minister, my uncle played the organ, etc., etc.  Needless to say, I was born in church or atleast started attending once I got all of my shots as an infant.  My experience showed me that the most religious people were not only the meanest and most judgemental (as everyone assumes), but they were also the least spiritual.  In school, the "church girls" were the most promiscuous.  In church, money scandals and adulterous behavior were abound.  I wanted no parts of that kind of hypocritical behavior.  However, I later learned that it's not about them.  It's all about Him!  Instead of focusing on those who are not committed to their relationship with God or relegate their relationship only to how they are perceived in church, I would focus on myself and my relationship with Him!  Withouth Him, I am nothing.  Who cares about them.
P.S. I wrote this a while ago, but never got around to completing my list of 15. My friend, Tamara, made a post on Facebook today that made me think of this blog and find it in my sea of email drafts. In order to avoid procrastination and avoid allowing another 6 months to go by without sharing my thoughts, I thought I'd do this in 2 parts. I'll post what I have already written now and post the remaining 8 lessons at a later date. As a teaser to Part 2, here are the headings I had listed for 8-15. 
  1. Trust your instincts! 
  2. Trust the universe!
  3. Don't be afraid to walk away.
  4. Learn to say no!
  5. Show appreciation.
  6. Time is valuable.
  7. Everyone has value.
  8. Dream bigger!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Marriage via Mother Theresa

I am taking this excerpt from a blog post I read this morning. I could rehash her sentiments, but I think she expresses this way better than I can rehash, so here it goes......
For those interested, a link to the full blog post is available at the end. 

The only way to have a successful marriage that will become a legacy to all future generations is to teach NOT through your words alone, but allow your beliefs to be lived out daily before your children.   Walk by FAITH and pray believing in God’s goodness, faithfulness, and love for us!   Love without boundaries.  Apologize with great sincerity – quickly.  Offer forgiveness always.  Walk with God humbly, seeking to live a life of holiness.  Let your words be few and your deeds change the hearts of all who spend time with you. 

God’s grace is changing our marriage.  He is redeeming all the years we sought to be right/validated, etc.  He is redeeming all of the ways our marriage dishonored Him and each other.  He is redeeming what the enemy used to try and destroy us.   He is asking us to trust in His redeeming work and humble ourselves before Him.   It is amazing what He is doing month to month as we truly answer Him with nothing more than a sincere cry from our hearts, “Yes, Father.”   “Thy will be done.  Be it done unto me/us according to Thy Word.”  

Our children are benefiting from us walking humbly with God and each other.  Our children are changing by watching us live out what we have taught them for many years.  Because now it is real to them.  They are learning that we take sin seriously, because God takes it very seriously.   They are learning that when we make a mistakes, we seek God first to make it right.   They are learning that marriage is an act of great love = humility!   It daily chooses the best for the other.   We pray we never forget or take for granted the work God has done in each of us and our marriage.   Friends, God is in the business of redemption.   No matter how far gone your marriage is, NEVER discount what His perfect love can and will do when you humble yourself before Him – seeking to do things His way, not yours.  Don’t worry about your spouse and if they are going to change, let God worry about them and seek to truly open yourself to His redemptive work in you.  

Here is what has worked for us:  

  1. ALWAYS - Seek God with all of your heart and soul.
  2. Pray about it more than you talk about it.
  3. Spend time being still.  You can’t hear from God if you are always talking or busy.
  4. Stop demanding you are right.  Stop needing to be loved your way.  Ask God, to show you how to love in a way that will draw you closer to Him and your spouse.  Learn how to communicate in truth and LOVE!  HUMILITY always seeks the best for the other person.  Think about what is best for your relationship and if what you are going to say or do will edify your spouse and your marriage.  If not, then don’t say it or do it!
  5. Love is not a feeling, it is a verb…an act of sacrifice.  It is what you promised the day you said, “I do.”  Live out your vows.
  6. Divorce is NEVER an option. Speak life over your marriage and spouse.  Don’t give any opening to the enemy who desires to destroy what is sacred in the eyes of God. Forgive each other, neither of you are without sin (faults, annoying habits, etc.)  The ONLY exception is if you are being abused or put into dangerous situations.  Then please seek help.  Do NOT suffer in silence.  There is help!  Find people who will NOT judge your situation, but want to help you have VICTORY over it!
  7. Spend time together doing things you both enjoy. 
  8. Go out on dates.  No exceptions.
  9. Look for the good in your spouseand compliment them about it every single day.   Don’t lie.  Everyone has good qualities.
  10. Be kind or be quiet.  Words can’t be taken back and are often hard to forget.  They can only be forgiven.